Special to Black Men In America.com – Posted January 14, 2018
Harold K. Bell has actively advocated for the rights of children his entire adult life. In 1965, after spending two years chasing his NFL dreams without any success, he returned home to Washington, DC. He was hired to work for the United Planning Organization. The organization hired three neighborhood workers for its self-help program – Petey Greene, H. Rap Brown and Harold Bell. In 1968, Harold was caught in the middle of the riots that hit inner-cities all around this country were experiencing after the shooting death of our Prince of Peace, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Harold was working as a Roving Leader (Youth Gang Task Force) for the DC Department of Recreation & Parks. He and co-worker Willie Wood (NFL Hall of Fame) walked arm-in-arm with the first modern day U. S. Marshall in-Charge appointed by the President of the United States, Luke C. Moore.
In December 1968, out of the ashes of the riots, the Bells found their non-profit organization Kids In Trouble (KIT). From 1968 to 2013, KIT hosted 45 straight Christmas toy parties for needy children in DC, Maryland and Virginia, without grants or loans. The KIT toy party benefited thousands of inner-city children. Today the NFL, NBA, MLB and the NHL have all copied his “reach back” programs to enhance the lives of inner-city children. The Bells have been honored at the White House by President Richard M. Nixon, cited in the Congressional Record by Lou Stokes (D-Ohio), Senator Bob Dole (R-Kan.) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) for their work with at-risk children.
In 1980, Washingtonian Magazine named Harold Bell “Washingtonian of the Year” for being a one-man community action program. He is a sports media pioneer in sports talk radio and was the first sports media personality honored by the magazine. Sports talk radio was a relatively new medium for black broadcasters in the 1970s. His first five (5) minutes of radio stardom was at the helm of two-time Emmy award winner, Petey Greene in 1967. In 1970, he found the original “Inside Sports.” The title for the show was suggested to him by his wife Hattie over dinner one evening. Hattie, is the daughter of the late Dr. Charles H. Thomas, Jr. In the 50s, Dr. Thomas was the President of the local chapter of the Orangeburg, S. C. NAACP and marched with Dr. King. He was inducted into The Black South Carolina Hall of Fame in 2007.
Inside Sports aired first, on W-O-O-K-AM in 1970. Its life span included WYCB-AM, W-U-S-T-AM, WPFW FM and WKYS-FM. In 1975, Bell became the first black to host and produce a television sports special in prime time on WRC-TV 4, an NBC affiliate in DC. His special guest was The Greatest, Muhammad Ali. Bell owns the copyrights to an interview collection that reads like a “Who’s Who” in sports. The Washington Post owns the copyright to Inside Sports!
Harold Bell’s commentaries and blogs spotlight the trials and tribulations of the black athlete and have become a trilogy of classic proportions. Prior to Bell’s Inside Sports format, topics on racism in the front offices and on the playing fields of sports’ franchises in America were taboo. Harold Bell was the first to play message music and host media round tables, something unheard of on sports talk radio at that time. Bell challenged athletes for hard truths regardless of their stature. His interviews with superstar athletes from Muhammad Ali, Red Auerbach, George Foreman, Don King, Andre Agassi, Jim Brown, Sugar Ray Leonard, Dr. Harry Edwards or his partner in crime, the late boxing historian Bert Randolph Sugar are classics.
In 2007, Bell was referred to as “a little known Black History fact” by syndicated talk show host, Tom Joyner. Sportswriters Jim Beathea, Dick Heller of the Washington Star, George Solomon, and Donald Huff, of the Washington Post, Rick Snider of the Washington Times and Dave McKenna of the City Paper have all sang his praises. In addition, in 1980 radio and television critic, William Taaffe of the Washington Star cited Bell for his pioneering contributions to sports talk radio and television. He said, “Inside Sports is a jewel of a program-easily the most provocative radio sports talk show in Washington.” Heller called him “The Godfather” of sports talk, the good kind.” The late Earl Lloyd, the first black to play in the NBA, was a guest on ESPN 980 radio with former Georgetown basketball coach, John Thompson, Jr. Mr. Lloyd was quoted saying, “Harold Bell may be controversial, but I have yet to hear anyone call him a liar.” Washington Times sports columnist Rick Snider said, “Harold, I have always admired the warrior inside of you. If we had more journalists like you, we would own this town instead of letting all the cheer leading media scam artists have their way. People are just too weak minded to resist. That’s sad, but true.”
Harold Bell successfully led a campaign with NBA icon the late Red Auerbach and DC sports columnist Washington Times’ Dick Heller to have Mr. Lloyd inducted into the 2003 NBA Hall of Fame after decades of omission.
His Original Inside Sports talk radio format can be heard and seen on radio and television sports talk shows around the world. Historian and civil rights icon Dr. Harry Edwards said, “Harold your archives are valuable and should be given the broadest exposure. You should think of offering a disc of your programs to the new Smithsonian Museum of African American Culture & History (NMAAHC). A wing of the museum will be dedicated to the struggle in sports and will be titled “A level playing field.” Your work was a major force over the years in leveling the playing field, especially, in the terms in the struggle to define and project ‘our truth’ great job over the years and the timing is right for reprising that legacy now”.
The benefactors of Kids In Trouble and Inside Sports read like a “Who’s Who” in media, pro sports and sports talk media. Harold K. Bell is a man for all seasons. He embodies the courage of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the heart of champion, Muhammad Ali. While others lie and bite their tongues, he keeps hope alive!
“Harold and I have a lot in common. He too has persevered and stood fast for the principles in which he believes.” Muhammad Ali
“Harold I am so proud to see you have returned to work with young people whose lives once resembled your very own.” President Richard Nixon
“Harold, you help prepare me for the NBA” Dave Bing (NBA Hall of Fame)
“Harold Bell has always provided a platform for those without one” Jim Brown (NFL)
“Harold, I am the Welterweight Champion of the World today because you were there when no one else was.” Sugar Ray Leonard, Boxing Hall of Fame
“Harold has always been a voice for people who didn’t have a voice. He has always called them as he saw them. He has been an inspiration and motivation for me and a lot of other black broadcasters.” James Brown (NFL CBS Sports)
“Harold you have always been a voice for the people and we love you for it.” Judge Luke C. Moore (DC Superior Court)
“Harold Bell is a unique sportscaster, former athlete, youth leader and social critic all Rolled into one.” Bill Taaffe, (Sports lllustrated Magazine)
“Harold Bell and Inside Sports makes sense.” Red Auerbach (NBA Hall of Fame)
“Harold Bell maybe controversial but I have yet to hear anyone call him a liar.” Earl Lloyd (NBA Hall of Fame)
“Harold Bell is a One Man Community Action Program. I don’t think I have ever met anyone like him. ”Nicholas Blatchford (Columnist Washington Star Newspaper)
“Harold I thank you and my office staff thanks you for allowing us to be a part of your annual Christmas toy party for needy children.” Senator Strom Thurmond (R-SC)
“Harold Bell is the Godfather of sports talk—the good kind.”Dick Heller, Washington Times
“Harold Bell is the Heavyweight Champion of sports talk.” Don King (Boxing Hall of Fame)
“Sports talk as you see it today all started in Washington, DC with Harold Bell and Inside Sports.” Johnny Sample (NFL Legend)
“Harold you can be a tough man sometimes but your work with children is commendable.” John Thompson (Georgetown University)
“Harold Bell if you had been white you would be a millionaire. People would have been calling Howard Cosell the black Harold Bell.” Gene Kilroy (Ali Business Manager)
“As his own success took him out of the projects, he could not forget who he once was and where he came from.” Lou Stokes (D-Ohio)
“No one is indispensable, but there are some people more necessary than others, Harold Bell is one of those people.” Washington Star Newspaper Editorial
“Harold you are my hero” Dave McKenna City Paper
“Harold Bell is a One Man Community Action Program and this city is far better place for him remembering where he came from.” Washingtonian Magazine
“Harold, I have always admired the warrior inside of you. If we had more journalists like you, we would own this town instead of letting all the cheer-leading media scam artists have their way. People are just too weak minded to resist. That’s sad, but true.” Sports Columnist Rick Snider
“Harold, I want to personally thank you for being my champion” Willie Wood NFL Hall of Fame
“Harold Bell has been a lightning rod of a sports broadcaster for decades. His commitment and passion to protect children and those without a voice are unparalleled. You may not like the way he does things, but things get done and a lot of people are in better places because of his courage to act.” Gary A. Johnson, Black Men In America.com
Harold Bell is the Godfather of Sports Talk radio and television in Washington, DC. Throughout the mid-sixties, seventies and eighties, Harold embarked upon a relatively new medium–-sports talk radio with classic interviews with sports celebrities, politicians and news makers of the day. The show and format became wildly popular. Harold has been an active force fighting for the rights of children for almost 50 years with the help of his wife Hattie through their charity Kids In Trouble, Inc. To learn more about Harold Bell visit his official web site. You can check out Harold’s work on this site by clicking here.